THE MIXTAPE FILM
North West Mixtape was an evening celebration to mark the end of our three year project to preserve and make accessable so many of the north west’s most at risk recordings. The event began with the North West Mixtape film itself, which was a 45min compilation of recordings from the project. Each clip was carefully curated, subtitled and projected with simple soundwaves and changing colour blocks.
Highlights included an interview with Dorothy Kuya from BBC Radio Merseyside (791 BBC/2/55), a live session recording of ‘Pretty Girls’ by post punk band The Liggers c.1979 BBC, Oxford Road (NWRECS/5989-5999) and traditional Lancashire folk songs like ‘I’m an Old Spinner’ Anonymous c.1980s (OLDHAMOH/244).
Credit to our team of Daniel Leach, Samual Amusan and Kirsty Jukes for contributing to creating these videos which also appear as separate clips on sound kiosks (see image below) that we have delivered to Liverpool Record Office, Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, Carlisle Archive Centre and shortly to Lancashire Archives.
SOUND ARTISTS’ WORKS
I worked as the Digitisation Manager for most of the project but stepped into the boots of Hub Project Manager for the final 4 months of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Project. This gave me the exciting opportunity to curate and commission two sound artists from the region to make live improvised works responding to specific collections that I selected.
The oral history collections of Oldhams Women’s Mill Workers together with recordings of mills and looms were the perfect audio to ask sound artist Freda Wallace to work with. Freda performs with a micced up sewing machine and metronome through a mixer to create powerful industrial beats that are informed by experiences as a trans-woman and feminist in post industrial Manchester. She comes from a maternal line of textile workers so her response to these collections was deeply personal.
I asked Freda what was her approach to working with this archive material:
“I decided to choose the voices where women talked about working with other women. The experience of entering the mill for the first time and how the noise affected them. I didn’t want to edit the recording heavily. I intended to have them come in and out of my mix as contrapuntal notation. The voices form part of the rhythm created my my sewing machine which in turn becomes the “clock” for the synthesisers.”
Listen to Freda Wallaces final mastered composition on Soundcloud:
Here’s a short video clip of her performance:
This is the longer version:
The sound artist Gary Fisher, was asked to work with the Knowsley Oral History Collection and specifically interviews with teenage residents of the new town Kirkby. He explains his process and set up below:
“My approach was to listen to the recordings and cut small parts out with sounds such as the tape recorder starting up, microphones being moved or touching clothes etc. Some parts where live music is being played, and manipulated them and stretched them out into the drones and harmonic tones you heard in the piece. The start of the piece was raw clips from the lads club gradually being layered up and mixed so different voices were coming from different sides of the stereo mix, some random repeating and pitch shifting was then applied, the drones and tones mentioned above were brought in. I used a timer counting down from 20 minutes so I knew roughly when to bring in different parts.”
This is a short clip from his performance:
Here’s a longer video featuring extracts of his performance:
Thanks to the Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting this project event. Also special thanks to Stephanie Daniels for sound engineering, Kirsty Jukes for poster design and additional filming, and to Cameron Naylor, who gave us permission to play extracts of his composition between acts. His piece Sound House – Stereo Reduction was in part made by mixing audio recorded direct from our analogue tape machines at Archives+.